Wedding gift etiquette

If not actually attending a wedding one was invited to, it’s still acceptable to get them a gift, right?

A good friend of mine is getting married next month. I can’t afford the time off work and the $500 to fly up to Canada for the wedding. There are, however, plenty of smaller things on their gift registry I can afford. This is the first wedding I’ve been invited to*. I’m assuming it’s perfectly acceptable to get them a gift, but I just want to make sure.

*Excluding family weddings I attended as a child, of course. And oh god it’s so freaky that people my age are getting married; when did I become an adult?

Yes, for sure. Sending a gift would be very thoughtful.

Yes. In fact, most online registries I’ve seen (Target, Pottery Barn, etc) offer you the option of sending directly to the registrant’s address, all gift wrapped and with a card. It’s nice because they have the registrant’s address (in case you don’t know it, or they want it shipped to like, their mother’s house) already. As a bonus to the registrant, they don’t actually share the address with whomever is browsing the registry, lest crazies start stalking them.

Absolutely. The traditional rule is you have a year from the date of the wedding to send a gift. And it’s actually easier for the couple to receive gifts not on the day of/at the ceremony, although bringing it then is acceptable too.

Excellent - that’s what I was hoping (and assuming) to be true. Thanks.

Not only is it acceptable but some especially crass people send out invitations to people they know won’t be able to attend in the expectation that they will send a gift anyway. Or so the legend goes at least.

It is absolutely not acceptable to bring wedding gifts to the wedding or the reception. Everyone has enough to do on that day without worrying about keeping track of gifts and cards, dealing with people who want you to open their present right now so they can see your reaction and trying to figure out how to transport a bunch of presents after the creemony or reception.

It is absolutely acceptable and expected in some cultures, including some cultural pockets in the U.S. At most of the weddings I attended before I was 20 years old, there was a gift table set up at the wedding reception, and people were expected to show up at the reception, gift in hand, to place it upon the table. Usually a large basket was available as well, for cards and money. It was indeed this way at my own wedding, because all my relatives and all my husband’s relatives expected it and would have been flabbergasted to find that there was no place to put their gift. My sister- and brother-in-law handled the gifts for us and kept them in their home until we returned from our wedding trip, which is a pretty typical arrangement.

I understand that Miss Manners and Dear Abby and society wedding planners expect that no gifts will appear on the day of, and that it’s possibly the way it’s done at almost all weddings. If you don’t know for sure, it’s definitely best to send the gift before the wedding. But you can’t categorically state that it’s unacceptable to bring a gift to a wedding. It’s just not universally true.

In my neck of the woods, etiquette requires that if you are invited, you get a gift, whether you attend or not.

Of course, in my neck of the woods, I’ve been to weddings where the bride opens the gifts at the reception.

Just because people do it doesn’t make it right. The fact that some people are so ill-informed about wedding etiquette as to actually set up tables for gifts at their own weddings (as if gifts were mandatory or even expected or as if they were the price of admission to the reception) and others are so ignorant about proper behaviour as to tote a wedding gift to the wedding doesn’t mean that it’s correct or acceptable. People do tacky things at weddings all the time (cake smashed in the bride’s face, anyone?); commonality of tackiness doesn’t make it any less tacky.

In my neck of the woods we call that “extortion.” Gifts are symbolic expressions of affection and congratulations; they are never required.

Yes, all the rule books agree with you, which I mentioned before.

Good manners, however, are more about respecting people than respecting rules. The rules, in general, help us to respect people. But if respecting the rules, BY GOD, means making a large portion of your guests uncomfortable? Screw the rules. Go with respecting the people every time. Sometimes that means respecting their harmless customs, however egregious an outsider may find them.

A bit of a side track/hi jack here, but it does relate to wedding gift etiquette…

When Mrs F and I give a weding gift, we generally write a note in the card saying : “We know just how busy you two are going to be setting up your new lives together, and just want you to know that a thank you card is not required… spend that time enjoying each other, instead!”

what are your opinions on this?


Pardon? Virtually every wedding I’ve ever attended has a table set up specifically for gifts. It’s totally acceptable to bring the gift to the wedding/reception. I’ve never seen the couple open the presents AT the wedding or anything, and I think usually the family takes them home so the bride/groom don’t have to deal with them for a few days.

Edited to add: I guess in Otto’s world it’s more acceptable to make your guests feel like crap and feel GUILTY for bringing you a GIFT. Sorry, but people who are that uptight about “official etiquette rules” just grate on my last nerve.

I have never seen it done but so many people here have said they have I guess it depends where you live.

I just received a bridal shower invitation and on the bottom of the invitation it says "if you can’t attend, please drop off gifts/cards at “123 Main St”.

I have never seen anything that rude in my life. :eek:

Wow. Yeah that’s beyond tacky.

Actually, in my world I would never make someone feel guilty or like crap for bringing a gift. “Official etiquette rules” also mandate that one not use etiquette as a club, but that doesn’t mean one can’t point out the error on a message board. Sorry, but people who make ignorant “guesses” about me and my behaviour just grate on my last nerve.

Can I ask my own question here? I was at a wedding today for the daughter of my friend. I haven’t purchased her a gift, but I made all of her jewelry and that of the bridesmaids and flower girls. Her mom bought most of the materials, but I bought some, used some I already had, and bought all the materials for the presentation boxes. I also acted as auxiliary photographer and burned disks of all the photos I took today for both the bride and her mom. Do I still need to get her a gift, or are my time (probably 12 hours or so) and jewelry-materials enough?

I think that is definitely enough! A friend of my mom is a baker, and she made our wedding cake (it was GORGEOUS and so tasty!) and I would have felt kinda guilty if she had, on top of that, also given us a gift.

You don’t ever “need” to get anyone a wedding gift. Presents are never owed. In your case, if there were some actual obligation to give presents your work and expense in making the jewelry and taking the photographs would more than cover it. If you haven’t given her the photo disc yet you could put it into a pretty and inexpensive gift box and address it to the couple.